Guys, I’m French and I make French toast. That’s my prerogative. French toast in French is called “pain perdu” (= lost bread). Why lost? Because it’s gone stale, and you still want to make something out of it. French baguette, as I’m sure you know, goes stale in less than a day. Since most French families buy one (or more) baguette(s) a day at the baker’s, sometimes, they need to be creative with leftovers. That’s how I first got acquainted with pain perdu. My dad used to make it for breakfast when we were on vacation –only on vacation, because we didn’t eat that much bread the rest of the year (I’m making it sound like we couldn’t afford it, but of course it was more of a dietary thing.) (Bread is cheap enough that almost anyone can afford it in France.) So to me, it’s reminiscent of family vacation, childhood, and something exceptional. We were being pampered by my Dad, as opposed to the school year when I couldn’t eat anything to save my life before going to school.
Let’s say that pain perdu introduced me to what a real breakfast should be like. We also make it for afternoon snacks in France, with jam or Nutella. And I can totally envision a savory version. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll let you know. Either way, be sure to let your bread go stale, only then will you be sure to make French toast the French way.
French French toast
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-3 (easily doubled)
- ½ French baguette, stale
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp butter
1. Cut the bread into slices, place it in a shallow bowl, then pour the milk over it. Let sit for about 15 minutes, tossing the bread regularly to make sure all the sides are in contact with milk at some point. When the slices are soft all the way through, remove from bowl.
2. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Dip a slice of bread in the eggs, coating it thoroughly, then place in the skillet. Repeat for each slice. Cook for about 15 minutes, tossing when one side is golden-brown. Serve warm, with sugar, honey or jam.
- You can do it the American way and serve pain perdu with maple syrup, berries, etc.
- If you cheat and don’t use stale bread, you won’t need to leave it in the milk for so long, a few minutes will suffice or the bread will fall apart.
- Substitute any type of sourdough bread.